Applique Lake Lanier Pillow

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There is a point early on in a sewing project when you just know that the final product is going to be fantastic. This idea – a pillow with a map of the lake my parents live on – had been floating around in my head for months. And finally, back in December (yes, this is another overdue post) I finally put the plan into action. One day at work, I found a map online that I eventually used as my template. It was that early on – before I had even picked up a piece of fabric – that I knew in my heart this pillow was going to turn out awesome!

I think it turned out to be just that.

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I used the map I found online as a compass, pointing me in the direction I should take the project. The map’s size decided the dimensions, and its green outline inspired me to use layers of fabric.

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The pillow’s map has 3 layers of fabric. The first (though it may be hard to see in the pictures) is a layer of light blue tulle. The second layer is a dark denim material someone gave me as scraps. Using heat n’ bond iron-on adhesive, I cut out a rough outline of the map without the worry of fraying edges.

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Finally, the third piece is the most detailed. Again using heat ‘n bond iron-on adhesive, I pined the map to the fabric and cut out the map along the green border. (I thought if I cut any closer, some of those tiny coves would be crazy difficult to cut out.) This piece took awhile to cut because I went nice and slow. I didn’t want to make any mistakes.

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With the three layers made, I ironed the denim piece with the tulle underneath to the pillow. I then did the same with the light blue piece. With everything loosely attached, I used the embroidery foot on my sewing machine to sew everything down.

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With the map in place, I added a few details, embroidering the lake’s name and a small compass. I then attached the back piece, placing right sides together and sewing along the edge with a 3/4-inch seam allowance. Leaving a small hole, I stuffed the pillow with poly-fil, and hand sewed the hole closed.

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It’s been awhile since I used my embroidery foot with my sewing machine, and for me, it’s take a few minutes before I feel like I have the hang on it. But even in it’s imperfect moments, I love the free-form look of this sewing foot creates. For me, it just enhances the homemade quality.

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After attaching the lake map, I felt like the pillow still needed something extra. I knew I wanted to embroider the lake’s name, but the idea of the compass came to me at the last minute. It was the perfect finishing touch.

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Overall, this pillow is of great quality. I used canvas for the front of the pillow and a thick, blue cotton fabric for the back. Both pieces were in my collect of scrap fabric, so I don’t know about cost. But I do know the fabric choice helps make the pillow feels so sturdy.

DSC_0669The pillow now lives in my parents’ kitchen in a cute sitting area they created (instead of having a kitchen table). On a good winter day, you could stand up from this spot and see the lake through the windows. I couldn’t think of a better home.

 

Anthropologie-Inspired Felt Christmas Stocking

IMG_4921I know, I know. I’m writing about my Christmas stocking in the final days of January, but to my defense, this month has flown by. I’m ready to flip my calendar to February with hopeful thoughts that next month won’t be as crazy.

But back to Christmas: this year I decided I wanted to buy a nice Christmas stocking, one that I would treasure year after year. When I stumbled across this stocking at Anthropologie, I was instantly smitten, but the price tag made me think twice. The thought is almost reflexive at this point: I could totally make this!

IMG_4907I’ll keep the picture of the Anthopologie stocking small because when placed side-by-side, my stocking looks pretty “crafty” in comparison. The difference is in the quality. I’m sure Anthopologie used expensive wool. I used acrylic felt from Hobby Lobby. They used these adorable mini pom poms with a trendy color pallet. I was stuck with the primary colored trim selection at JoAnn Fabrics.

Don’t get me wrong, I love how my stocking turned out, especially when you compare the price. I spent about $8. The item is now out of stock, but I remember Anthropologie selling it for almost $50.

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In my excitement of the project (plus, I made it really late at night and the lighting would have been a mess), I didn’t take many step-by-step pictures. But the process doesn’t venture far from a normal Christmas stocking tutorial. After cutting out the main piece of the stocking, I simply attached rows of trim. And instead of using my sewing machine, I used a blanket stitch to hand sew the stocking together. I used light blue thread to provide a little contrast.

My final touch was the accent of purple and magenta yarn pom poms. I hunted for the white yarn in the similar style, but after going to a few stores, I felt lucky to have stumbled across the purple yarn. So I made it work!

I’m sure when Christmas comes around this year, I’ll go through the same thought process of wanting a buy nice stocking. But for now, I’m excited that this Christmas stocking is mine.

Felt Christmas Poinsettia

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When I came home with the wrong size terra cotta pots (The felt cactuses I sell on Etsy use 3-inch pots; I purchased 2-inch pots), I decided to make the most of my mistake. The result were these adorable, mini felt poinsettias.

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Similar to the felt cactuses I sell, each flower is attached to felt “dirt” and come with a real clay pot.  Teach your little ones to love gardening early on as they can “plant” their flowers over and over again. (And bonus, no mess to clean up or dead plants to deal with.)

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To create the flower, I used a similar approach to how I create the cactus flower. I took a small rectangle of yellow felt and cut slits along the width. I did the same with a small white rectangular piece of felt. I then rolled up the yellow felt and continued with the white, creating the center. Next, I hand-cut the red petals (sorry, I don’t have templates) – 5 smaller petals and 5 slightly larger ones – and 4 large green leaves. I then attach them one-by-one until the flower is complete.

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The miniature size is what gets me. My gosh, these flowers are just so darn cute!

Felt Gingerbread Cookies

When you think about iconic Christmas food, what comes to mind? For me, Christmas is all about gingerbread cookies. My loyal readers already know the amount of time I spend and the joy I have making Christmas cookies each year. (For you newcomers, click here and here for reference.) So when it come time to add a few Christmas items to my Etsy shop, I could stop myself.

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I didn’t just want to make felt gingerbread cookies. Because even though the felt cookies turned out so darn cute, the fun is in the baking.

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The set includes everything pictured above: 3 decorated [felt] cookies, a sheet of rolled out [felt] dough and the actual cookie cutter to match. (all for $12 – what a steal!)

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I didn’t try to make the cookies from the cut outs in the dough. This would have too much room for error. So I cut the cookies out (using a 99 cent cookie cutter from Target) from spare felt and use white felt to adorn them.

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For the dough, I traced and cut out the cookie cutter shapes. I placed a layer of batting (leftover from a quilt project) between the two pieces of felt, and blanket-stitched the edges. The batting add some dimension to the dough, which I hope makes it more realistic when a child “rolls” it out.

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I tried to leave as much room for a child’s imagination to go wild. Cookies fit the dough like a puzzle. And since the set includes the actual cookie cutter, they can pretend to “roll,” “cut out” and “bake” cookies all day long.

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I also made a set with Christmas tree cookies. Same idea, different shape (and same unbeatable price)!

 

Felt Dr. Who Christmas Stocking

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The best kinds of custom orders are the ones that give you a topic you could run with. For this project, my friend asked if I could make something out of felt relating to Christmas and Dr. Who. So my first thought – a Tardis Christmas stocking!

The idea was solidified by a picture I saw on Pinterest. (It’s so hard to have an original idea these days.) But in the picture, it looked like everything was glued down, and I decided to sew everything in place instead. Plus, I added the touch of holly and a wreath to add to the Christmas theme.

It’s not a large stocking, but it’ll be perfect to hang at your desk, in a school locker or on a door handle. Send me a message via my contact page if you want to place a custom order for yourself!

Wish I had thought of it: Felt Baby Costume

As more and more crafty people join Instagram, I find that the mobile social media site has now surpassed Pinterest as a major source of inspiration. Example A:

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This. is. ADORABLE! Plus, it looks so easy to create. I imagine you can sew or use fabric glue to attach strips and squares of white felt to a yellow onesie. And it would be easy to make the headband with elastic and green felt.

Unfortunately, I do not have a kid of my own, but luckily my sister-in-law is due the first of March. This will be prefect for my new niece this time next year!

Check out more of A Beautiful Mess on Instagram here!

A Custom Felt Playmat for my Nephew

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The brainstorming process for my nephew’s 2-year-old birthday present began about 2 months ago. I had seen ideas for a “quiet book” on Pinterest. Mostly made from felt, “quiet books” are these cute flip books filled with little activities that are meant to entertain and keep your kid still and quiet. I liked the idea (especially since Josiah is quite the jet-setter), but I wanted something bigger! (He’s my only nephew to make things like this for!) That is when I had the epiphany to create an awesome, felt play mat – customized for his life.

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I started by purchasing a yard of green fleece. In my opinion, fleece holds up better over time than felt. (Felt can shed and eventually start to ball up.) Though I planned to use felt for the details, I knew fleece would be a better foundation. Plus, fleece is much softer in case my nephew every decides he wants to use the mat as a blanket.

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Cutting out the streets and the buildings took a few days. (And as you can see, I let it take over the floor of my kitchen.) I cut everything by freehand, so I did experience some trial and error. Initially, I cut the streets pretty wide, but as I cut out more and more building, I made the streets skinnier to fit everything on the mat. (Plus, I found this cute wood cars that were the perfect size for my smaller roads.)

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With everything cut out and in place, I used no-heat sewing glue to glue everything down. The glue left marks at first, but they go away as the glue dries.

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Despite everything being glued down, I wanted to secure the felt pieces in place by sewing everything down. (I am giving this to a 2 year old.) I used clear and white thread, and it took about a week to finish since I sewed everything by hand. I also used embroidery floss to add a handful of details – like a sign for the gas station and items for sale at the market.

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The back side of the fabric shows all of the work, but no one wants to see that. So I found this adorable fabric at Joann Fabric that I used as a back piece.

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I customized this mat for Josiah, picking places that he would recognize from his everyday life. And from what I’m told, Jo loves some pizza and ice cream.

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Since they live right on the ocean, I added a beach with the surf club my brother belongs too. For the zoo, I decided to leave the space blank since Josiah has so many small, plush animals he could place there.

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I totally took this gas station/car wash idea from Pinterst. I’m obsessed with the car wash. It’s my favorite element on the whole mat!

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Dad’s office on the left, and a school on the right.

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Their local grocery store is Carrefour. I tired to copy the store’s logo. Though looking back, I’m bet I subconsciously picked a green roof because I shop at Publix. And then with a little extra space, I placed a blue U.S. mail box!

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The train station was a must! And this too is an idea I found on Pinterest. I cut rick rack into piece for the railroad tracks, and then used felt to create an accompanying train station.

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Last time I went to visit my brother and sister-in-law, we walked into the same music shop everytime we walked by it, so it was also a must-have. Plus, I think the little guitar and bongos look super cute in the windows. The fire station was added because I think it’s pretty iconic.

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These three buildings represent Josiah’s apartment on the right. His grandparents’ house is in the middle. And I added a house I thought could represent their good friends, the Wallaces. (Plus, I wanted to use the silhouette of that archway somewhere on the mat since it ties in so closely to where Josiah is growing up.)

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Finally, I added a Medena, or a little market. Of course, this is a lot smaller than the ones Josiah goes too, but I thought it was a needed detail.

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I attached the back piece of fabric the same as if I was making a quilt. I used basting spray to attach the two pieces together, and then I used denim fabric cut into 2-inch wide strips to bind the edges.

Hand-Stitch a Star Chart

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A needle and thread are the only tools you need to recreate the night sky. My love for the stars and their constellation stories are not new. (You might remember my first constellation-themed project with a pair of Toms.) So when I began to brainstorm new projects to help decorate my new desk at work, I ended reverting back to a favorite, creating this hand-stitched star chart banner.

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Like my pair of Toms, I started by splatter-painting the material with silver paint, but this time, I used a piece of navy muslin fabric. (Sorry, I did not make note of dimensions) This process helps create the look of infinite stars, adding a beautiful layer of dimension. Once done with the silver paint, I did splatter on a little white paint too.

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Once the paint dries, I start with my needle and thread. I printed off a a star chart to help with a few constellations, but for the most part, I stitched everything from memory. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, use an erasable fabric marker to draw the constellations before stitching. Along with the constellations, I stitched several additional starts to help fill in the spaces between constellations.

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To finish, I took a matching piece of navy muslin, and placed the two pieces right sides together. Using my sewing machine, I sewed them together using a 3/4 inch seam. At the top, I skipped over an inch on each side to leave room for the wood rod. After turning the fabric right-sides-out, I ironed it, placed the wood rod, and used hemp string to hang the banner.